December 4, 2012

Doha Briefs: Pulling off the Blinders


Ambition has been the buzzword of late at COP18, and this is especially with regards to finance and cutting down of Green House Gas emissions.

Ambition Lacks!

There has been a constant outcry by least developing countries and Association of Small island States (AOSIS) with regards to the lack of commitment by Annex I (developed countries) to put money on the table to finance mitigation and adaptation projects. Also, the lack of ambition by Annex I countries to cut down on their Green House Gas emissions has been manifested by the withdrawal of Canada, Japan and New Zealand from the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol. Interestingly, this happened in the backdrop of a report by the World Bank that warns that Annex I countries need to deeply cut down on emissions by 25 – 40% by 2020 so as to avert the 4 degrees Celsius increase in warming that is catastrophic.

The Gulf goes Green

The significance of Qatar hosting COP18 cannot be understated. This has put the spotlight on the Gulf region at large with regards to how it plans to go Green. According to ECO Newsletter, the following numbers put the issue into perspective:

·      Saudi Arabia has pledged to have 7-10% renewable energy by 2020; 30% by 2030
·      United Arab Emirates has pledged: Abu Dhabi to have 7% renewable energy and Dubai 5% renewable energy
·      Qatar: 10% renewable energy by 2030
·      Kuwait and Oman: 10% renewable energy by 2020
·      Bahrain: 5% renewable energy by 2030

Gender Mainstreaming

Gender issues also took centre stage, thanks to a proposal by the European Union to mainstream women into the UNFCCC process. This is actually not the first time that this issue has come up, as it was also discussed in COP7. With this proposal, women will be mainstreamed into the UNFCCC process through representation on the bodies of the framework.


Money and Accountability

The issue of monitoring, review and verification (MRV) of climate finance was one of the hot topics the last week here at COP18. This was with regards to how Annex I are reporting about the money that goes into finance. Developing countries are pressing Annex I countries to be clear and give a breakdown of the climate finance they are providing, but this did not go well with the latter, as all they want to do is to provide vague details of their climate finance contributions; also, Annex I are of the excuse that transparent reporting on climate finance is too cumbersome a process. Of specific interest is which countries are receiving money from where, and the specific mitigation and adaptation projects that are being funded. The tug of war is going on, and the end of this week will determine the outcome.

Burning Issue: Fossil Fuel Subsidies

The issue of ending fossil fuel subsidies has been simmering under the surface since the start of Cop18, and the civil society has been pressing for the mention of fossil fuel subsidies. Luckily, there was a breakthrough when this issue was mentioned at the COP. To put this issue into perspective, how about some numbers from International Energy Agency

·      Around $730bn annually goes to fossil fuel subsidies
·      2011 saw $88bn go to renewable energy subsidies

There were some calls that some of the money used for subsidizing fossil fuels should go to the Green Climate Fund (GCF). Well, time will tell..

Africa and the Convention Kitty

Well..!! The African Convention Fund essentially is aimed at facilitating Africa’s efforts towards combating climate change. It follows that Africa needs to be able to tap into adequate financial resources to boost her capability to combat climate change. The continent has experienced tremendous growth over the last couple of years with the general economic topography looking generally positive. However, the cost of climate change has threatened to push back the gains that have been painstakingly achieved. The average growth rate has been 5% meaning that the economic space in the continent has been expanding, creating more opportunities and prospects in Africa. Climate change however threatens up to 3% of the continent’s GDP hence the need to tap into more financial resources to offset the damage[1].

The need for resources has also stemmed from the fact that only about 5% of the total amount pledged has been delivered. The result is well known, HUGE DEFICIT; In addition up to about 95% of the funds available have been used for mitigation mechanisms[2]. This creates a short fall in terms of adaptation programs which are crucial in equipping Africans to cope with the adverse effects of climate change.

In accessing and efficiently utilizing these resources, Africa has to place itself in a position that ensures its best interests are secured. Reforms need to be enhanced with regard to institutions that are mandated to tackle climate change. In doing so, Africa would be laying the ground for more access to these resources and make submissions regarding the improvement of the Green Climate Fund. In addition, finding the “soft spot” of the private sector is key since they are key stakeholders as regards providing funding used to tackle climate change. Key to all this is however reforms at all levels and all key sectors.   

Conclusion

So, this week the ball is in the politicians’ court, and the issues that remained unresolved last week - by technocrats - will now be handled by politicians. And the wait for a breakthrough continues….




[1] Africa Development Bank, Financing Climate Change: Africa’s Access to Convention Funds.
[2] Ibid note 1

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